Jason (Zac Efron) is one week away from marrying his boss’s (Dermot Mulroney) uber-controlling daughter (Julianne Hough), putting him on the fast track for a partnership at the law firm. However, when Jason is tricked into driving his foul-mouthed grandfather, Dick (Robert De Niro), to Daytona for spring break, his pending nuptials are suddenly in jeopardy. Between riotous frat parties, bar fights, and an epic night of karaoke, Dick is on a quest to live his life to the fullest and bring Jason along for the ride. Ultimately, on the wildest journey of their lives, “dirty” Grandpa and his uptight grandson discover they can learn from one another and form the bond they never had.
Just to clear things up, this is not the same as the film Bad Grandpa which released back in 2013. It was a Jackass film with a story happening around real people and was mostly stupid. This film is not quite the same as that but there are some similarities. When you do think of a Dirty Grandpa, you may not think of Robert De Niro but you may be surprised by the fact that he is in this film and I am glad he was. The story for this involves Jason (Efron), an uptight, young corporate lawyer about to marry the controlling daughter (Hough) of his boss (Mulroney). After his grandmother dies, his foul-mouthed grandfather Dick (De Niro) tricks Jason into driving him to Daytona for spring break, placing his upcoming wedding in jeopardy. If I had to describe this film, it would be part road-trip film and a journey of self-discovery for both main characters with some hijinks bordering on stupid. But it’s a smart kind of stupid, for lack of a better word. While Bad Grandpa was just gratuitously stupid (it is a Jackass film), this one was tastefully stupid by never going to far with its stupidity. I can usually handle stupid on most occasions and I handled it here but I can understand why some people may not like it. It is a bunch of low-brow humour like dick jokes and gay jokes but I enjoyed it. The audience in my theater were just laughing at everything. In most cases it may not have worked but when De Niro says and does those things, it just makes them even better. His performance, to me, was the highlight of this film. He sold me with his comedic timing and delivery. He really embodied the character as if he were anyone else, I don’t think it would have been the same. Kudos to the writing here as I found myself consistently laughing as most of the jokes were hits with me. De Niro had most of the jokes here as he just played off of Efron’s straight man, acting as a counterbalance. Their scenes worked for me as their chemistry was palpable which made it fun to watch. Jason was a very uptight to start with and as the movie went on, he predictably lost that as he started to assimilate with Dick’s lifestyle. Efron was good here at babysitting De Niro’s character while having his own moments later on. Aubrey Plaza was also great here in a supporting role with a serious of hilarious interactions with Efron and a memorable one later on with De Niro (no spoilers). Danny Glover also appeared briefly as one of Dick’s old war buddies but I would have liked to have seen more. Overall, I was scared for De Niro going into this but I was pleasantly surprised by how funny this was and how funny De Niro was. This is the first film I’ve seen this year that received a round of applause at the end. I haven’t laughed this much in a long time and I think you will too.